The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, has set a new agenda for the nation’s apex maritime regulatory agency by embarking on new initiatives that will enable the agency carry out its core responsibilities, combat piracy and stem the cycle of criminalities on the nation’s territorial waters.
The NIMASA helmsman, it was learnt, has developed the Triple ‘S’, which is known as the NIMASA Performance Tripod (NPT), that reflects the agency’s composite of mandates as the regulator and harnesseser of the maritime domain.
In an exclusive interview with The Nation to mark his 100 days in office, the DG said the Triple ‘S’ is a three-point strategic agenda of the critical elements of the NIMASA mandate drawn from the various legal and statutory instruments governing the agency’s existence and operations.
“All of the various policy initiatives, interventions, plans and partnerships of NIMASA are expected to be pursued on the platform of the tripod of maritime security as priority, maritime safety as necessity and shipping development with urgency.
“Together with other agencies and international partners, we have sent a clear message crucial to our partners against criminality on our maritime waters,” he said.
The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, Jamoh said, has a long-term, strategic port planning system that will ensure that the sea- ports provide adequate capacity to meet the demands of key shipping lines and their alliance partners in sizeable blocks of volume.
To achieve this, the NIMASA chief said the board and the management team have been mandated to work relentlessly and tirelessly in repositioning the agency to attain its funding which have dovetailed into helping to deliver on the NAMASA mandate.
He said the agency was more determined to advance the nation’s global maritime goals and promote its rapid economic development.
NIMASA, Jamoh said, has developed the Triple ‘S’, which is known as the NIMASA Performance Tripod that truly reflects the agency’s composite of mandates as the regulator and harnesseser of the maritime domain.
With the Triple ‘S’ initiative, he said the agency would achieve a robust and business- friendly maritime domain to make the country a hub of maritime activities in the West and Central Africa.
He said the agency would continue to protect the rich maritime resources and environment and ensure that it adapted to global standard for safe, secure, clean and efficient maritime transport.
Jamoh said he was happy that the maritime domain is legally protected to conserve important marine habitats, such as fish, shrimps, spawning, nursery, feeding, breeding and aggregation sites that were vital for population of many sea creatures.
He noted that Buhari signed the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act last June. The law, he said, made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have a distinct antipiracy legislation.
While urging the stakeholders to support the government, he said the Buhari Administration has a bold and robust vision, national determination, and assiduous plans to make the the nation’s ports, the hub of maritime in West and Central Africa.
The NIMASA chief said the geographical location of Nigeria trade lines is favourable and its transformation to a regional maritime hub.
He said he could not be by chance but by having a robust plan, identify its strength and weakness through the efforts of the Federal Government to protect the rich maritime industry.
He pledged that NIMASA would continue to collaborate with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant agencies after the duo busted a criminal ring, which specialised in hijacking ocean going vessels and distort legitimate trade in the country.
Jamoh warned criminal elements to stay away from Nigeria, saying the agency and the Navy have the capability to deal with such threats.
“It is important to stress that NIMASA’s primary functions as stipulated in the various national legislation governing its activities is regulatory. However, its capacity to meet the demands of those functions from maritime security to safety and shipping development alongside the many and involving international contractual obligations the agency is signatory to under the auspices of the international Maritime Organisation (IMO), requires significant funding to be met through some of the agency’s revenue-generating activities,” he said.
Jamoh, it was gathered, is interfacing NIMASA C4Eye (base of overseeing the Safety of the waterways) with NPA C3Eye and the Naval Falcon Eye and creating a safety platform to oversee, locate any safety issues in the waterways to address them is ongoing “We have the Regional Maritime Safety Coordinating Centre that takes care of nine countries in Africa and we have established four centres in Nigeria. Two of them are the Lagos (NIMASA resource centre), which is fully functional and the Takwa Bay center with equipment installed) and the Oron and Bonny centres are waiting to get their equipment installed.
‘’We are taking stock of all safety platforms to harmonise and interface effectively with other actors,” the DG said.
NIMASA, he said, has concluded the review of the guideline for the Financing Fund (CVFF) so that individuals can access the funds and inccrese indigenous fleet.
Since the assumption of office of the management team, findings revealed that the shipping development department has put in place more proactive measures in the past three months to block revenue leakages from under-declaration and non-declaration by various shipping entities to stabilise the agency’s revenue drive.
Investigation also revealed that in spite of the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the various revenue collection efforts, effective credit controls and debt recovery measures put in place in the last three months have helped to position the agency towards attaining set funding targets, which have dovetailed into helping to deliver on its core mandate.
A senior official of the Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMoT), who craved anonymity, said they were happy that “NIMASA, in the last 100 days, has ensured improved working relationships with the Nigerian Navy, the Police, the Department of State Security (DSS), and other stakeholders to adopt a holistic and integrated approach to maritime security.
“The collaboration has led to the Nigerian Navy apprehending 10 pirates of Nigerian origin while Nigerian Police nabbed 17 suspected sea pirates. This is the first time in four years that an arrest was made on the Nigerian territorial waters. Sending signals to the international community that Nigeria is no longer complacent about fighting piracy.
“So far, 156 personnel drawn from the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, NPA, Nigerian Police and Office of the Attorney- General, have been trained on the enforcement of piracy law. Working groups have also been created with international stakeholders which comprise Inter-tanker, Inter-cargo, Oil Multinationals, and Baltic & International Maritime Council (BIMCO),” the senior official said
NIMASA, the FMoT official said, chairs monthly security meetings with these international bodies with representatives from the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police, Ministry of Transport, and other local stakeholders to address maritime security issues.